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Cooking with "Ideas in Food"


mkayahara
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Can someone comment on whether this book has a lot of pictures/diagrams? I'm thinking of buying it and tempted to get the Kindle version, but not if there's a lot of illustrations (which never come through very well).

There aren't any illustrations at all - it's all text. The Kindle version should be fine. (In fact, if I ever get an e-reader, this would be one of the first books I'd buy.)

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Thanks - have not had a chance to check out the health food stores yet but plan on doing so either today or tomorrow. Too bad is right! I am sure though that I have seen it somewhere in my travels so I will keep looking.

If you can't find it locally, Upaya Naturals is a Canadian company (Toronto) that carries it and has an online store. I've ordered from them a few times and always had fast service.

Edited by Tri2Cook (log)

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Thanks - have not had a chance to check out the health food stores yet but plan on doing so either today or tomorrow. Too bad is right! I am sure though that I have seen it somewhere in my travels so I will keep looking.

If you can't find it locally, Upaya Naturals is a Canadian company (Toronto) that carries it and has an online store. I've ordered from them a few times and always had fast service.

Thanks for this. I am sure I will find it locally but I just have to get out there and search. :biggrin:

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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  • 4 weeks later...

I want to try and make an extruded pasta variant of the potato chip pasta recipe in the book, but am not exactly sure where to turn for potato flakes. The local grocery store only has flavored instant mashed potatoes, I couldn't find any plain potato flakes in the store. Does anyone know if potato flour is a reasonable substitute? Alternatively, has anyone made their own potato flakes? Worst case I figured I could mash some potatoes with no added ingredients and then dehydrate.

Andrew Vaserfirer aka avaserfi

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I've been playing around with ideas from this for a while. The one dish I've made from start to finish was the macaroni and cheese, which I am disappointed to say wasn't quite to my taste. After soaking the macaroni for an hour per their instructions the pasta was already far softer than I would ever want it to be. The recipe said to cook the hydrated pasta in the cheese sauce for something like 6 or 8 minutes (which was right around the total recommended cooking time for the un-hydrated pasta!) so I didn't bother with this step and simply mixed the pasta with the cheese sauce, turned it out into broiling ramekins and ran it under the broiler. Overall, I found the lack of tooth in the pasta to be a significant flaw to my taste, as I feel that some chew is necessary as a foil to the richness (it is an extremely rich macaroni and cheese). This, of course, may simply be the brand of pasta that I used -- although Ronzoni is pretty middle-of-the-road as pasta goes. Anyway, it seems likely that a different brand would provide a firmer texture, and of course the technique can be modified to use a shorter soaking time for a firmer texture as well. One of the things that's good about the book is that after a technique is explained, it's usually pretty clear how you can modify it to your taste. I have my eye on several other recipes I'm anxious to try.

--

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I also tried the mac and cheese. Likewise, I did not cook the hydrated pasta in the cheese for the 6 to 8 minutes, merely I kept the cheese on a warm setting of my induction burner and folded in the pasta. Maybe it was to just steam off any excess moisture that was not absorbed in the soaking, perhaps it is to help raise the temperature of the pasta. Next time, I might also go for just under 45 minutes of hydration. I have always prefered a softer 'tooth feel' rather than al dente for my pasta. The other think I really enjoyed in the recipe was use of evaporated milk-I think this is both a good flavor addition and a better way to go than other milks.

"A cloud o' dust! Could be most anything. Even a whirling dervish.

That, gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all." - The Professionals by Richard Brooks

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That's interesting, Sam. I've made the mac and cheese twice now, with plans to make it again soon, and have never had a problem with the texture: I've found the pre-hydrated pasta to be still nearly crunchy, and the final dish to be quite chewy. I agree that it's a very rich dish, though.

As far as the pre-hydration itself, I think it's just another way of getting to the same place: in a traditional, béchamel-based mac and cheese (at least the way I've made it), you under-cook the pasta slightly and make the cheese sauce a little loose so that everything comes together in the oven. With this kind of cheese sauce, though, you really need to have your pasta fully hydrated to begin with; they do that through soaking, then gelatinize the starch in the sauce. I don't see any reason you couldn't cook the pasta in boiling water, drain, then mix into the sauce and broil right away. That way, you could easily cook it to your preferred doneness.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Sam, what is the reasoning they give behind "pre-hydrating" the pasta? The mac & cheese in modernist doesn't have that step, they use a pasta-cooking method they adapted from McGee I think.

They do it to

1- shorten the cooking time significantly

2- infuse it with flavor, as in soaking the pasta in tomato water.

I have not tried their method as outlined in the book yet.

(BTW Alton Brown rescently made lasagna with soaked softened pasta INSTEAD of boiling it, that sounded like an excellent and convenient idea)

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I have made this recipe many times and I love it. I did not have the overcooked texture problem, but I have also used Barilla Penne as my pasta. The one hour still left my pasta al dente, even with the fulll cooking time in the sauce, though with a different "more consistent tooth" throughout. This has become my go to mac and cheese (prior to tonights trial of MC)

Mike

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They do it to

1- shorten the cooking time significantly

I think this is Sam's point, at least with respect to the mac and cheese recipe: macaroni usually takes only about 8 or 10 minutes to cook in boiling water, and this recipe calls for you to cook the macaroni in the sauce for 10 minutes. So it doesn't reduce the cooking time, at least not in this case.

I have made this recipe many times and I love it. I did not have the overcooked texture problem, but I have also used Barilla Penne as my pasta.

This raises a very good point: they recommend soaking different pasta shapes for different lengths of time.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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It seems clear, and to give them all credit due (and plenty is due), they do mention that different pasta shapes take different soaking times. It probably bears mentioning (and perhaps they do, but I don't recall) that different pasta brands of the same shape may take radically different soaking times. The Ronzoni elbow macaroni was practically mush after soaking for 60 minutes.

Given the vast differences in both brands and shapes of dry pasta, it might have been a good idea in describing the technique to describe what characteristics one should look for in properly pre-hydrated pasta. This way, readers would have some basis for employing this technique on their own without having to go through the laborious trial and error process that I'm sure Alex and Aki used initially in coming up with their timings. Also, for people who just want to plow through the recipe, it probably would have made sense to formulate it for some easy-to-source brand and to specify the brand. I imagine that the elbow macaroni I used was simply a lot thinner and less robust than the kind they were using. I picked Ronzoni because (well, because there was no better brand at the store where I happened to think of it) I thought it would be a good middle-of-the-road representative macaroni. But every brand line has its quirks, and maybe this is Ronzoni's.

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Ideas in Food is a fantastic cookbook. I know a lot has been made and said about Modernist Cuisine lately. And, this is not meant as a slam on MC, but, you can actually cook out of Ideas. It's usable AND you don't need to clear off an entire book shelf to store it. Seriously though, they both have their place in the kitchen.

I did a review of Ideas for my web site:

Ideas In Food: Food+Science=Delicious

Like a lot of people on this thread, I also made the Mac & Cheese. Turned out amazing!

It gets a BIG thumbs up from me.

mccooked3600pxJPG.jpg

Edited by LJHdineSRQ (log)
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I think the maple vinegar is ready to use. It's been significantly more than the 4 weeks it needed per the recipe but it was still a bit too sweet at 4 weeks. Now, it is still on the sweeter side, but it is much better balanced with the tartness. This is a delicious product and like no commercial vinegar I ever bought. I cannot wait to try it on or with something.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Given the vast differences in both brands and shapes of dry pasta, it might have been a good idea in describing the technique to describe what characteristics one should look for in properly pre-hydrated pasta.

It's there, just not with the Mac 'n Cheese recipe. On page 116, after the discussion about different shapes needing different times: "The pasta hydrates to a texture similar to just before al dente, becoming pliable while retaining a pale, opaque color."

Also on page 116: "Once the pasta is done soaking, we drain off the water and store it in the fridge in a zip-top bag. . . . . Refrigerated, the pasta will easily keep for up to three days."

So, one could prehydrate the pasta and shred the cheese in the morning, then just throw it together in a few minutes for dinner. Easier and easier.

Wish I'd found that before my first attempt, I didn't soak long enough and ended up adding 1/2 cup of fresh milk to the mac 'n cheese during the 10 (15) minute cook because it was still a little crunchy. It came out fine, got a big thumbs up from the SO. :biggrin:

edited for clarity

Edited by Quiltguy (log)
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after the pasta is soaked in room temp water and drained, is it rinsed? Is anything added to it, like oil, to keep it from clumping and sticking when it sits in the fridge?

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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after the pasta is soaked in room temp water and drained, is it rinsed? Is anything added to it, like oil, to keep it from clumping and sticking when it sits in the fridge?

Nothing like oil is added to it. That is another benefit to this method vs. boiling it and then attempting to hold it. If just soaked (room temp water) the pasta will not stick like it would if boiled. That is due to the fact that the starch has not been "activated" I think.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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after the pasta is soaked in room temp water and drained, is it rinsed? Is anything added to it, like oil, to keep it from clumping and sticking when it sits in the fridge?

I think you rinse it just in order to get any of the starchy water off of it. But, because the starch isn't cooked, the soaked pasta isn't cohesive. If you're going to par-"cook" pasta, this is definitely better than cooking and shocking. I also like the possibility of soaking the pasta in a flavored liquid. It would be interesting to see how much and what kinds of flavors actually infuse into the pasta this way. For example, suppose you were to soak spaghetti in water that had been infused with smoked paprika and then used that spaghetti to make caccio e pepe. Would the pasta taste smoky? Would it be red? How far would the redness go inside the pasta?

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Has anyone else tried the no-knead brioche? I've never made brioche before, but this recipe looked very interesting, so I decided to try it out. I used a scale and followed the directions, but I found the brioche to be fairly dense. I've never actually had fresh brioche before (and now I realize I need to have some), so I'm not entirely sure what to expect, but from everything I've read and heard about brioche, this was not the light, airy, and buttery bread that I thought would result. It is good bread, but is it good brioche?

Edited by JHeald (log)
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Has anyone else tried the no-knead brioche? I've never made brioche before, but this recipe looked very interesting, so I decided to try it out. I used a scale and followed the directions, but I found the brioche to be fairly dense. I've never actually had fresh brioche before (and now I realize I need to have some), so I'm not entirely sure what to expect, but from everything I've read and heard about brioche, this was not the light, airy, and buttery bread that I thought would result. It is good bread, but is it good brioche?

I had the exact same experience. It was good bread and the loaf went quickly but it wasn't brioche, at least based on the brioche I've had before. This was extremely dense - I'm glad you had the same results! I've actually had a high % of Ideas In Food recipes that didn't work the way I had expected although at the same time I've taken a lot of good tips and techniques out of the book and blog.

rg

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Extruded potato chip pasta was a success. I used roasted potato flour, instead of flakes, and cut back significantly on the liquid ingredients using a mixture of beer and eggs rather than just eggs.

Cool! That looks awesome. (And so do the photos on your title page!)

What extruder do you have?

A.

Edited by Andrew Hall (log)
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